September, 5th 2016
Translated by: Nehal Abdalla
In Portsaid, an Egyptian city, a huge demonstration broke out for the Muslim Brotherhood in Srour square, a place well known for educational private tutor centers especially for high school students, national and Azhar students (Azhar schools are Islamic official schools in Egypt).
The chase started once the demonstration was over, people in the streets stared watching as if it’s a horror movie, some of them silently uttered a terrified prayer for the victims to be, while others, from the regime supporters citizens, loudly expressed their thrill of victory for the chase of the demonstrators.
The chase was between every possible hideous thing and its opposite.
The stick chasing the pen and the copy book.
The dark ignorance chasing enlightenment so as to be an eternal alternative.
Wolves chasing birds soaring high.
Riots chasing Egyptian girls!
Ferociouslyangry were the hunters, holding their sticksand knives up high and other kinds of edged weapons. They were either police related thugs or some regime-supporter civilians always referred to by the media as “The Good Citizens”, all running for the chase of the demonstrators which included 13 girls from Damietta.
While the chasers held up their weapons, the girls held their high school books, pens and educational pamphlets they got from their private lessons, private lessons which became the de facto alternative for the governmental education in Egypt after it internationally ranked one hundred thirty nine out of one hundred and forty countries, this is due to the nature of Srour square which happened to be well known for private-lesson centers. As a matter of fact, some of those girls were protestors who participated in the demonstrations, but being a part of a demonstration is not a crime, however, the great crime is “criminalizing demonstrations”!
The chase lasted for several minutes from Shorbasystreet to the trading street of Portsaid, where all the thirteen girls fell captives in the hands of “The Good Citizens” and the police thugs, whoare not worried about being blamed for any brutal action they take, unless the blamer is one of the national security police officers!
They drove the girls with sticksin front of all the eyes who watched staring with no interference, the scene was not interesting at all but rather terrifying, everyone picturing themselves as captives with the girls in case they show a sign of objection for what is happening. It’s the same old story girls of Damietta, let’s watch in silence in fear of getting harmed, let’s eat bread even if the bread is mold!
The girls got arrested and beaten publicly with sticks all over their bodies, including their private parts, and were continuously verbally abused.
One of their mothers told me: “I did not know that letting my daughter attend a private lesson would be a reason of her being abused and accused of being a prostitute instead of learning something for the benefit of this country!”
While another mother said: “All this happened in front of the passers-by and the owners of the local shops’ and kiosks’ eyes with no interference from absolutely anyone! I have no idea how no one moved a muscle to save my child!If they have considered her their own daughter for a second they would have certainly helped her.”
Three high school girls were abducted in a vehicle, Heba Osama AbouEissa, Rawda Samir Khater and IsraaFarahat, while the other ten were taken in a police car, all to the police station in Damietta. In the police station being a girl differed nothing than being a man, I thought the beating up happened only to men from the opposition, but the girls were beaten with no mercy as well!
“The girls spent the whole night till the morning standing facing the walls on their first night in the police station of Damietta, on that very day the policemen were denying their existence.” one of the mothers wrote in a handwritten letter to me. All this started Tuesday, May the fifth 2015, at 7:30 pm.
The security forces of Damietta police station took off with the thirteen girls to a security forces camp in New Damietta; it’s a camp for the central security forces which makes it an unprepared illegal detention place, but in the absence of law and justice everything is possible.The girls were secretly kept there and the officers of the camp still denied their existence, refusing to disclose their location to their relatives and lawyers.
The next day the prosecution itself showed up in the camp to continue the brutal illegal actions against the girls and start an interrogation in the camp, which is considered an insult to the prosecution before it being an insult to the prisoners’ rights.
“The interrogation of each girl would last for five hours, to the extent that one of the girls fainted due to stress and lack of sleep, so they threw her with water to force her awake.” One of the mothers said with grief.
The inquest report stated that the girls committed various crimes such as:
The attempt of killing 22 of the police forces, committing violent actions, possessing fire weapons, attempting to overthrow the regime, joining abanned group “Muslim Brotherhood”, protesting without permission and finally disturbing the public.
This group of crimes are always referred to by the political opposition as “Cocktail”, as it is a pre-prepared list of crimes ready for any political detainee.
The young girls refused to sign the inquest report at the beginning due to the lies it included, but they couldn’t resist much as one of the police officers threatened themshouting: “You sign or you lose your virginity right here?!” The girls signed, justice collapsed, and a long cruel journey awaited the girls.
The prosecution decided a 15-day detention in custody.
Some of the brutal actions the girls faced during their detention, as per the letter I received:
– In New Damietta Central Security Forces camp the girls were moved to different cells as a way of exhausting them, then eventually they ended up in a men’s cell for three days!
– They were all relocated in Portsaid General prisonexcept for three girls “Heba Osama Eissa, AmalMagdyHassanein, and Rawda Samir Khater”, they were relocated in KafrSaadWahn prison.
– During the time they spent in the Central Security Forces camp their location was undisclosed to their parents, lawyers and anyone who tried to know where they were. The parents knew their location coincidently when the police transferred them to a hospital to run medical analysis, one of the girls called her mother from a nurse’s mobile phone “Mama, we’re in Portsaid hospital conducting a pregnancy test and we’re getting transferred to Portsaid General prison”!
– When the mothers knew their location by chance one of the mothers managed to issue a visit permission on the thirteenth day and confirmed where they are imprisoned!
– The letter I received did not mention the reason of why they conducted pregnancy tests for the girls, but it might me because they spent three days in a men’s cell.
– The girls were continuously remanded to custody from the 5th of May 2015 till the 26th of December 2016. They were transferred from Portsaid prison to Damietta in the horrible deadly prisoner transport vehicle where they would sometimes spend over 6 hours on the way, although they way shouldn’t take that long, then they would get remanded to custody without even seeing the judge or the court! This was continuously happening on a 15-day basis from the 26th of December 2015 till the 28th of June 2016!
Without going into further details, one day the judge released 11 of the girls, but the two high school students remained in detention, IsraaAbdouFarahat and Rawda Samir Khater, who happened to be two of the arbitrary arrested girls while they were heading home from a private lesson beside the demonstration area.
Israa and Rawda were not allowed to attend their high school final exams for the academic year 2014/2015, as the regime thought it would be better for them to spend this year behind the bars instead of spending it at school.
I quote the last line of the letter I received as it is:
“With gratitude and gratefulness we ask you to kindly support the girls’ case on thelegal, humanitarian and media levels, before Israa and Rawda’s next trial session which is due on the 26th of December 2016.”
Case number 4337 misdemeanor court transferred to criminal court.
Imprisonment date: May the 5th 2015 at 7:30 pm.